As a result of collaborative discussions with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Swain County, North Carolina, leaders, Duke Energy has announced plans to move a critically needed new electric tie station to a location out of direct view of the sacred Cherokee site known as Kituwah.
By the end of the year, following more detailed engineering and permitting work, Duke Energy will select from two alternate Swain County locations it has secured. One is inside the Swain County Industrial Park and the other in the Sheppard's Creek area.
After a final selection is made, a community workshop session will be announced, at which plans for the new tie station will be shared.
An electric tie station reduces electricity voltage levels from high-voltage transmission lines down to the lower voltage levels needed to serve area distribution substations.
Initially, a new electric tie station was planned at a site within view from Kituwah, an ancient and sacred gathering place of the Cherokee people that is adjacent to the Tuckaseegee River, east of Bryson City, N.C. After hearing concerns from the Cherokee people about the initial site, the company worked for several months with tribal and other community leaders to identity alternate locations.
With the tremendous growth in the area, including the expansion of Harrah's Cherokee Hotel and Casino, the current power delivery system is no longer adequate to meet increasing energy demands.
The addition of a new tie station will increase the capacity of the existing electrical system, helping to ensure continued reliable service to existing customers and allow for continued growth in the region.
"Our customers expect and rely on Duke Energy to provide the electricity that powers their homes and businesses," said Brett Carter, president, Duke Energy Carolinas, N.C. "Finding a new location for this important infrastructure allows us to deliver on our commitment to customers, without impacting the landscape around Kituwah."
"In addition to building a new tie station, we must complete the upgrade to a portion of one of the electric transmission power lines that delivers energy to Swain and Jackson Counties as well as the Cherokee Indian Reservation. These improvements will be completed in early 2012 and will help ensure our ability to serve this growing area well into the future," Carter added.
"It is my honor and responsibility to protect our land base and our Cherokee culture," said Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. "The land of Kituwah, our mother town, is central to our identity as a tribal nation and I will do everything in my power to ensure this sacred site is protected.
"I appreciate Duke Energy's understanding of these sensitive issues and their hard work to identify alternate locations for the electrical station," added Chief Hicks. "We are pleased that through the cooperation with Duke Energy, we will continue to have reliable electricity and the landscape around Kituwah will be protected."
Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 19,000 megawatts of electricity capacity to approximately 2.4 million customers in a 22,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.